Sweet Sandy B. Bakes

If we are ever to enjoy life, now is the time. Not tomorrow or next year... Today should always be our most wonderful day...

So, let's eat cake!

Notes on my adventure as a mom and baker and life as Sweet Sandy B...

Friday, April 30, 2010

The goodness that is Creme Anglaise

I had another cake commissioned for today. It was in a design near and dear to my heart- a U of M graduation cake in the shape of the infamous Block M.

When asked about the cake flavor/frosting flavor I was given "white cake, plain frosting". hm... real adventurous here.

I also had an order for chocolate chip cookies, banana bread and had to prepare for another birthday cake for this weekend. I had to plan out my week and what I would do nightly so I wouldn't be up all night last night. Hey, at least I TRIED. I was still up 'til 1 a.m. this morning.

Anyhow, I whipped up the Swiss Buttercream on Wednesday night. I made a double batch so I had 12 egg yolks with no purpose. I asked my new friend Lisa (@thebutcherbaker- GO CHECK THIS HOT MAMA OUT NOW! she's the most recent addition to @brutalsnack... more on Lisa later. I <3 her) about what to do w/ all of these yolks. She gave me three ideas: ice cream, creme anglaise for buttercream or a really fatty omelet. hmmm... Well, I don't have an ice cream machine and don't know that I want to take the time to figure out how to make ice cream at this point... an egg yolk omelet? while it sounds delicious I don't think my heart will allow me to eat it... Creme Anglaise? What is this "Creme Anglaise"? Sounds fancy...

I started to google. It's this custard type cream/sauce that you can use in buttercream, for a different flavor profile. It uses 5-8 yolks, depending on the recipe. Yup, it's going down.

Let me preface this that I was scared to make this. It involves tempering eggs. As you know- I am deathly afraid of tempering eggs. I've scrambled PLENTY of eggs in my time due to my impatience. I had a boat load of yolks though and so what if I scrambled some, I could keep trying.

I set to work. The recipe I used was very explicit about the utensils you had to use to make this recipe (stainless steel bowls, wooden spoon, whisk, ice bath, sauce pan..) Not anything crazy, but I thought- if they made the effort to clearly say STAINLESS STEEL BOWL, I better get everything out and ready and be a good little chef and do my mise en place.

Here is some:

Here is my half and half coming to 'just under a boil'. I think just under a boil means it starts to steam and you see little bubble forming along the edges of the liquid. Basically, you want to scald the liquid.

While the half and half is heating up, whip the egg yolks and sugar:

OK- now comes the 'scary' portion. I had to really focus on this part so I didn't take any pictures. But this is what happened: The half and half got to the scalded point. I walked it over to the Kitchen-Aid and started to slooooooooowly pour down the side of the bowl into the egg and sugar mixture. By "slooooooowly" I mean really really slowly and only a little bit at a time.
It appeared I didn't scramble the eggs! shriek of joy! Then, I poured the mixture back into the sauce pan and went back to the stove top and put it on low heat:

Then, I stood there and stirred with a wooden spoon for about 25 minutes. Seriously- I was irritated. I had the banana bread in the oven w/ the timer on, so I could see exacly how long this was taking me. I was to be stirring until the mixture coated the back of the wooden spoon. It took a long time and in typical Sandy B. fashion I got antsy and turned the heat up.

DUMB, DUMB and dumb. Guess what happened? The eggs started to scramble. (duh). Know how I knew? Because I COULD SMELL THE SCRAMBLED EGGS. I quickly took the pan off the heat and ran to the fine mesh strainer sitting in the ice bath and dumped the mixture out and pushed through the strainer. Caught in the nick of time... here is what the ice bath set up looked like (my savior):

and, I forgot to take pictures from here on out because the banana bread was done, I had to re-whip the buttercream and start carving the cake. Well- let me tell you what happened. I put the ice bath and creme anglaise in the fridge for about an hour. It cooled off and then I added it to my Swiss Buttercream and whipped the two together.
Then, I tasted it, then I died and then I swore I would do this for all of my cake frostings from now on, just adding different extracts to add different flavors. HOT DAMN was it good. So good in fact that I even let Mr. Papers try it out. He isn't too good with the compliments in regards to my baking, so when he agreed it was "best ever", I knew it was good... (I would like to note that he isn't this picky in regards to 'regular' food- he has been known to eat things OUT OF THE GARBAGE CAN because it was 'still good'. gross)

Anyhow, make some Creme Anglaise, or find a cake/cuppie that uses Creme Anglaise. You won't be sorry and you won't ever want frosting any other way. Trust me.
So- here is what it was all for. My Block M graduation cake:

I'm pretty stingy with the pictures on this one mostly because I consider it a "fail". I should KNOW dude! Whenever I think a cake is going to be "easy" it ends up being way hard. It wasn't until I was rolling out the fondant for it that I was like, hm... It might be somewhat difficult to get into the crevices in the middle. hm... Yeah, BIG HMMMM on that one. Idiot. It isn't pretty, I'm not proud and it was a huge learning experience. I tried to do anything and everything to make it look presentable. This is what I came up with. I know it tastes really good because I carved so much out of the sheet cake and tasted it. But, it doesn't look that great.
I need a lesson on how to lay fondant on letters. Help, please... anyone?

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